Go Back Spouses: Episode 6
Sweet, sweet jealousy is delivered in every minute of this episode, and it’s just what I ordered. Ban-do finally starts to see what he’s been taking for granted all this time, but Nam-gil’s white knight game is strong. Will Ban-do be able to come around in time to stop Jin-joo’s heart from going full flutter for the younger man?
EPISODE 6: “You shine the brightest when you are yourself”
In 2017, Jin-joo tries on a dress she ordered online. It’s pretty, but she’s worried that it’s too short, especially if she’s trying to carry Seo-jin around.
In voiceover, Jin-joo narrates that she used to think age was just a number that soaked into her, but didn’t change her.
Jin-joo still really likes the dress, so she posts online to mine the infinite wisdom of the internet—is an above-the-knee dress okay for a mother in her late thirties? Most replies say that they stopped wearing dresses a while ago but one commenter says that it doesn’t matter if it looks good on you, and Jin-joo perks up and tries the dress on again.
Ban-do arrives home and she jumps out to surprise him. But Ban-do is totally disinterested, tells her she’s too old for dresses like that, and starts calling for his son. When he hears that Seo-jin is asleep, all the energy in him deflates and he ignores Jin-joo and wanders off.
In voiceover again, Jin-joo narrates as she seals the box to return her dress, “Age wasn’t soaking into me, I was adjusting myself to my age. That’s how I got used to my age.”
In 1999, we return to that rainy day in Seoul. Jin-joo gets off the bus and huddles at the same stop as Seo-young, and notices that Seo-young tucks her own umbrella into her bag.
Jin-joo heads off to campus just as Ban-do’s bus arrives, but she turns to watch Seo-young and Ban-do talk, her expression grim. Jin-joo’s umbrella breaks down, but our favorite white knight, Nam-gil, is waiting in the wings and covers her with his umbrella.
As they walk, Jin-joo recalls Nam-gil’s confession the day before, and her heart flutters. Nam-gil beckons her to walk closer so that he’s under the umbrella too, and she wonders if he’s a player.
Ban-do and Seo-young approach from the opposite direction, and as the couples pass one another, Jin-joo and Ban-do both send lingering glances at one another over their shoulders.
In class, Ban-do can’t help but study Nam-gil from a few rows behind, and compares the young man’s shoulder width with his own. A few rows back, Jin-joo watches Ban-do and thinks of a similarly rainy day they’d experienced in their futures.
Jin-joo had emerged from the bus to find Ban-do waiting for her. She’d been happy to see him, but her spirits were dashed when he handed her an umbrella and then opened his own. She told him she wanted to share, but he’d scoffed, “Are we shooting a teen drama?” Jin-joo glared into his back as he walked away.
Now in ’99, Jin-joo recalls his words and wonders if Ban-do is shooting a reality show with her and a drama with Seo-young, and mutters a curse at his back.
The rain has cleared, and the professor cancels class so the students can enjoy the campus festival. Jin-joo pulls Ban-do aside to talk in private, then asks him not to bring his date to her dad’s theater.
Ban-do knows it was awkward, but then again, his father-in-law has no clue who he is, so does it really matter? Ban-do seems bummed by that, aww. Jin-joo retorts that Ban-do almost gave himself away with his reaction, and Ban-do mutters that it’s just habit.
Ban-do brings up Nam-gil and how he seems to be following Jin-joo around everywhere. Jin-joo shoots back that Seo-young may look innocent, but she’s sly, and lied about having a umbrella this morning. Ban-do is delighted to hear this, and tells Jin-joo that it isn’t sly, it’s cute.
Ban-do tells Jin-joo she’s been watching too many makjang dramas, and Jin-joo fires back that he’s too into his illicit love story, right as Dok-jae strolls up. Dok-jae asks if he can borrow the illicit love story video from Jin-joo, and Jin-joo just tells him to ask Ban-do, who’s got porn of all genres.
On the quad, the university festival is gearing up. The history department has set up a bar in their booth on the lawn, while the civil engineering seniors can’t seem to find any of their freshmen to man their water balloon game. Speaking of those missing freshmen…
Ban-do watches in dismay as Jae-woo makes cute faces and hearts out his dorm window at Bo-reum, whose window is directly across. Ban-do laments the inevitable fate of his friend, all while “Beautiful” from The Lonely Shining Goblin plays in the background.
Ban-do tries to talk Jae-woo out of dating Bo-reum, but Jae-woo assumes that he’s just jealous. Ban-do says that at age 31, the exact moment when Park Ji-sung scores during the South African World Cup, Jae-woo will regret his decision to date Bo-reum (so many clues!)
The camera flies out the window and across to Bo-reum’s room, where Jin-joo is also trying to talk Bo-reum out of her new relationship. Bo-reum is way too giddy to care, and Jin-joo receives no help from Seol either, who asks what date the couple became official. Bo-reum says the exact date isn’t important.
The camera soars back across into the boys’ room, where the date certainly seems important to Jae-woo, who circles it over and over again in his planner. A new obstacle for Ban-do arrives just then, in the form of Dok-jae and a bunch of weird supplies for the festival’s talent show.
Apparently Ban-do has been planning a big number for the trio, and the talent show will even end up on TV. Dok-jae is so excited, but in the future, Ban-do is haunted by this performance: In his flash-forward, the video makes its way to all of the doctors and nurses he works with, who tease him relentlessly (we had better get to see this in the epilogue).
Ban-do thinks that this must be his big chance to fix the future, and he begs the other guys to not do the show. They seem committed to having fun and making a great memory, so Ban-do just runs off himself.
Nam-gil’s planning on hiding out in the library during the festival, but one glance at Jin-joo hauling heavy cartons of drinks has him sitting at a table in the history department’s bar, pretending to read. Aww, you lovesick fool.
Jin-joo keeps herself busy correcting everyone’s bad kitchen skills, and a crowd (including Nam-gil) crowds around as she imitates the salt bae meme and makes the most delicious-looking batch of stir-fried pork ever.
Jin-joo feeds a sample to everyone gathered around, except her senior keeps interrupting her right before she tries to feed Nam-gil a piece, haha. Sunbae wants to make this their signature dish for the festival, and they only have to make a hundred more servings. Jin-joo’s eyes widen at the delivery of boxes and boxes of ingredients that have arrived.
Another history major assures Jin-joo that she won’t have to make all of the servings alone, and a gust of wind tosses the handkerchief from Jin-joo’s hand to the ground. She bends to grab it, but is distracted by a pair of military boots and a pack of young men dressed in fatigues marching towards with her with shovels.
Her Descendants of the Sun moment is ruined, however, when the main guy brings her handkerchief back and takes off his sunglasses… and he’s no Song Joong-ki (cameo by Kim Ki-doo, haha).
Over in the dance department, the dancers are getting ready for the festival. The dance professor compliments Seo-young on her good conditioning lately, and the other dancers ask if Seo-young’s good mood is because of a boy. Seo-young coyly answers that everyone needs a way to relieve stress, and a guy is one method.
And that particular guy has turned up to escort her to the festival. Oh, Ban-do. Why can’t you treat future Jin-joo like this?
Seo-young wonders if Ban-do is going to do something for the talent show, and she calls him too timid when she hears he’s not participating. After all, he always tells her to do whatever makes her happy. Ban-do considers, but the memories from the future just won’t let him give in to a moment of college frivolity.
The conversation is interrupted by Seo-young’s cell phone, and she takes a heated call with her mother. Ban-do tries not to be too obvious as he listens in, but he does comment afterward that Seo-young has a scary side. Seo-young responds that she can’t have only good traits, and Ban-do teases, “Who says you only have good traits?” She takes it in stride with just a small whine.
At the history department’s tent, the reserve forces mix up all the ingredients in a giant tub with their shovels. While they work, Jin-joo’s sunbae tells her she should have participated in the May Queen competition. Jin-joo recalls that she was nominated earlier in the semester, and her senior sighs that she refused. Jin-joo is busy enjoying her moment, thinking how pretty she must have been (which her sunbae mistakes for vanity, ha).
The reserve forces finish mixing with a flourish, which sends splatters of sauce flying over all the ladies watching, including Jin-joo. The others stalk off angrily, but Jin-joo waves it off as no big deal and tastes the sauce from her shirt, getting a smile from the ever-observant Nam-gil.
She elicits a laugh out of the student wiping down Nam-gil’s table as well, and he knocks over a soda onto Nam-gil’s pants. Nam-gil does not take it as good-naturedly as Jin-joo, haha.
Meanwhile, the cheerleading team is eating jjajangmyun in their practice room, and Bo-reum makes kissy faces at Jae-woo the whole time. Jae-woo cannot keep his cool and sputters incoherently. Bo-reum gets sauce on her costume and starts to wipe at it, but Jae-woo stops her.
In the bathroom, Jae-woo shows her that a dab of soap is better at getting the stain out, and his reward is a kiss from Bo-reum. He trots out of the restroom in a victory dance, but Bo-reum’s waiting for him in the hall, striking an alluring pose.
Dok-jae finds Jae-woo and Bo-reum having a little kiss-fest in an empty classroom. After Bo-reum leaves, Dok-jae complains that this is just a bit too much. He then recalls the many times in recent days that he has had to witness Jae-woo and Bo-reum’s kisses.
Dok-jae is concerned that Bo-reum is using Jae-woo for his body and doesn’t actually like him. Jae-woo isn’t immediately concerned, but Dok-jae’s words stick with him as he overhears two women talking about how guys can date girls for physical affection, seeing them as easy. Now Jae-woo’s concerned.
The festival is in full swing, and Ban-do and Seo-young are out enjoying it. Jin-joo sees them from afar and scowls, but then she notices that they’ve approached the water balloon game.
Ban-do is in trouble with his seniors for not helping out, but Dok-jae tries to distract everyone by calling out to the approaching Jin-joo. She wants to play, but only if Ban-do is the face in the wall to aim at, and she offers to pay twice the price.
With Ban-do set into place, Jin-joo winds up and goes to pitch her balloon. The first one is a fake-out, and she gets the scream out of Ban-do she wanted. She pitches her balloon for real, a direct hit. She throws over and over again, dousing Ban-do with an endless stream of water.
Dok-jae comments on Jin-joo’s skill, and she says this is easy. In flash-forward, Jin-joo thinks of all the diapers she had to toss into the diaper pail from afar. She’s had a lot of training for this moment.
A worried Seo-young asks if Ban-do can be switched out, but Jin-joo will only pitch at Ban-do, and the seniors are enjoying his suffering. When Jin-joo finally runs out of balloons, Dok-jae eagerly tells the drenched Ban-do that Seo-young was worried about him and must like him. Ban-do rolls his eyes at how slow Dok-jae is to catch on.
A dejected Jae-woo catches up with the guys, and he won’t even tolerate any of Dok-jae’s teasing. Dok-jae tries to talk Ban-do into the talent show one last time, but Ban-do still won’t give in. They rush off for the stage, and the promise of seeing host Kang Ho-dong. The entire student body is super excited to see Kang Ho-dong in person, except for Jin-joo and Ban-do.
Nam-gil’s more bothered by his stained pants than I thought, and he purchases a new pair at a store. On his way out, he spots a pretty white dress on display. He walks out of the store, but a moment later he’s back in to make an additional purchase.
It’s dark by the time Nam-gil returns to campus, the dress wrapped up and ready. But as he imagines giving Jin-joo the dress, he can’t stand the embarrassment (those puppy eyes though) of explaining why he’d give her a dress, so he first abandons the gift box, and then spends some time rumpling the fabric so he can pretend it’s not new.
The main crew gathers to drink after the talent show, and Seol is struggling not to laugh at whatever it is the boys performed. Ban-do lectures again that he tried to save them from embarrassment, but Bo-reum coos that it was cute and kisses Jae-woo, grossing out pretty much everyone.
Dok-jae spots Seo-young wandering around by herself and calls her over. Ban-do feels a bit awkward about calling her over while Jin-joo is there, but Jin-joo gives him a sarcastic “fighting” and gives her seat up to go cook. Seol huffs indignantly, but then she spots Nam-gil passing by as well and calls him over to even the playing field for Jin-joo.
Jin-joo’s sunbae is helping out at the May Queen contest tent, where it turns out one of the girls is a no-show, and he knows who can take her place. Yes, go get Jin-joo!
Back at the history bar, Jin-joo glares at Ban-do while he talks with Seo-young, filled with memories of the pair’s rainy walk. Jin-joo mouths at Ban-do, “It’s like you’re dating a minor.” Ban-do looks chastened. His gaze then travels over to Nam-gil, who stands close to Jin-joo while she cooks. Ban-do’s thoughts also travel back to seeing Jin-joo and Nam-gil in the rain. He wonders how a young kid like that can have such emotional eyes, eyes that are only for Jin-joo. So much jealousy in this tent.
Nam-gil is finally ready to claim his bite of the stir-fried pork, and he’s determined to get a hand-fed piece from Jin-joo. He holds onto her hand that’s grasping the tongs, only to be interrupted by an outcry from Ban-do. Ban-do can’t really explain why he’s jealous, so instead he diverts to his go-to negativity and asks Jin-joo why she has food all over her clothes like an old lady.
As the two argue back and forth, Nam-gil recalls Ban-do kicking Hyun-suk into the pool gleefully. None of their friends can follow their argument, but they do all wonder when the two got so close. Thankfully, Jin-joo’s sunbae arrives to break the tension and asks Jin-joo to participate in the May Queen event.
Jin-joo is reluctant, especially since she doesn’t have anything to wear. Nam-gil’s got his perfect moment to hand over the dress, and says it was just in his car. Pfft. Jin-joo wonders why he has women’s clothes in his car, and he blurts that it’s his sister’s.
Jin-joo hesitates, until Ban-do’s antagonism finally pushes her over the edge. She’ll compete to prove him wrong.
The contest begins and everyone is in the audience as the contestants take their places onstage. Jin-joo is lovely in her white dress, and Ban-do is transfixed. Nam-gil grins happily, and even Hyun-suk is in the audience, leering.
But Jin-joo’s surprised at mention of a talent portion and tells the host that she doesn’t have any talents. He urges her to do anything at all, and she thinks to her parents, and her mother’s love of singing that she passed on to her daughter.
And so, Jin-joo sings for everyone. She’s shaky at first, but gains confidence as the crowd’s cheers grow. It’s adorable, and that beautiful moment of falling in love hits Ban-do all over again, and his thoughts are filled with moments of older Jin-joo as a caring wife and an adoring mother to their son.
Jin-joo smiles warmly as she finishes her song and the crowd cheers. Back at her house, the dying plant her parents brought back in heals a bit, turning from brown to green.
Ban-do is in a daze as he walks the festival with Seo-young. She notes that while he knows what she likes, she doesn’t know anything about what he likes. Ban-do doesn’t have an answer, then jokes that it’s alcohol that he loves.
After the contest, Bo-reum and Seol lament that Jin-joo should have won. Dok-jae takes this moment, while Jae-woo is in the bathroom, to ask what Bo-reum likes about Jae-woo. They don’t see Jae-woo, however, when he returns and pauses behind them to hear her answer. Bo-reum’s answer, though, is that Jae-woo is easy, and Jae-woo’s face falls.
Jin-joo heads to the bathroom to change, but the ladies’ room is under construction, so she makes sure no one is in the men’s room and sneaks in. A group of guys, Hyun-suk included, head in right after her, and Nam-gil watches them.
From inside the bathroom stall, Jin-joo hears the boys talking about how cute she is. She figures out that one of them is the future doctor from the nightclub, but she loses her smile when he tells one of the guys that he’ll give her to him once he’s bored with her.
Now Jin-joo’s mad, and she opens the stall door to confront them. But the boys have all left, and only a grinning Nam-gil stands there. They hear a voice heading into the bathroom, so Nam-gil ushers Jin-joo back into the stall to hide, neither noticing that her hair clip falls to the ground in front of the stall.
As they stand there quietly, the stall door swings open, and Ban-do stands in front of them. Eyes widen all around and Ban-do asks what Jin-joo’s doing, but Nam-gil shoots back, “What are you doing?”
Jin-joo’s parents and sister crowd around the tv to watch the campus talent show from Jin-joo’s university. Ban-do’s group performance is supposed to be a strength test, but it definitely turns into a comedy act. Jin-joo’s parents love it, right up until host Kang Ho-dong asks if the boys have girlfriends and Ban-do points to Jin-joo, who yells and waves from the audience.
Peeking from the doorway, Jin-joo smiles at the display of affection. She watches dad’s anger grow though, as he declares that he’ll kill that guy.
That beautiful, jealous cliffhanger.
For a while, it’s been hard to root for the main couple getting back together. We know they’re both hurting and definitely loved one another at some point, but Ban-do’s vicious negging has made it really difficult to justify Jin-joo going back to him in the end. Sure, the guy may have been a marshmallow when he was actually 20, but 38 year-old Ban-do’s sole mission in life seems to be keeping Jin-joo down.
Ban-do has a habit of naysaying everyone he’s around though, not just Jin-joo. He has exhibited these actions often when he feels insecure; it’s almost like a self-defense mechanism. If he’s going down, he makes sure to bring everyone else down with him. And while it actually may not be anything personal, but rather something Ban-do does to protect himself, you can see what it’s done to Jin-joo over time. She has no confidence in herself anymore, a woman who can throw diapers into a pail without looking and was once elected to run for May Queen.
It seems like Ban-do was never equipped to handle what life threw at him, so for him to come back around and steal Jin-joo’s heart again, he’s going to have to do a lot more than just recognize that he still loves her. And I’m pretty sure others around Ban-do have been hinting at the source of his problem for a while. When Jin-joo’s father asked about his likes, he couldn’t muster any goals or dreams. The same happened when he registered for college without any aspirations, and finally when Seo-young inquired about his interests. Ban-do has no passions.
Being passionate about his future life with Jin-joo was certainly sweet, but it’s not a sustainable source of life satisfaction. So if this chance at 1999 really is karma’s way of letting him fix what went wrong, it seems like trying to find something that he loves to do might be a good start.
In the meanwhile though, I am thoroughly enjoying all the jealous angst. That scene in the festival tent, so much palpable jealousy. Ban-do still can’t quite get it right, with his immediate diversion to negative jibes, but his feelings are starting to take over.
Jang Ki-yong is doing such a good job of smiling adorably at Jang Nara as our second lead. It sounds easy, but I think he’s doing a great job of walking that fine line of comedic, cold-but-melting sweetheart. The comedy is always understated with him, and that makes every sideways look and pursed lips extra meaningful. I definitely rewatched a few of his reaction scenes a couple times over.
This episode was also about regret and those embarrassing moments that haunt us through life (especially in the middle of the night when our brains won’t turn off). We all have our embarrassments from our youth, and we’re all guilty of desperately wishing, if we just hadn’t done that one thing differently, our lives would be infinitely better. But in the moment, none of his friends are that terribly ashamed after the talent show, and it feels more like a great memory that Ban-do has now lost.
On the other side of the spectrum is Jin-joo, who always held back when she was young, and now, she finally gets the chance to experience the spotlight. She blossoms again as she sings, and I love that the almost-dead plant will help us track Jin-joo’s recovery. That thing had better have flowers on it by the finale.
With Jin-joo regaining her confidence before Ban-do’s eyes, he is starting to remember how amazing she always was, the way she was when he fell for her. And maybe, if we’re lucky, he’ll also see how his own behavior helped get her to her current meek state.
Most of the side characters took backseat this episode, but I hope Bo-reum and Jae-woo talk soon. Bo-reum can’t actually mean that she likes Jae-woo because he’s easy, right? She has to mean that he’s so open with his feelings for her, and doesn’t keep her guessing. My feelings are all tangled up in the main love quadrangle, but I am 100 percent for the Bo-reum–Jae-woo couple. Fighting!
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